Sunday, September 14, 2008

Attachment

I spent the past week in training, learning new therapy techniques to teach parents and to work with kids. It was all about attachment; forming a bond, healing a relationship.
In other words the best thing you can ever give a child is love.

No amount of "things" can replace what only 5 minutes of concentrated positive parent/child time gives a child.

We learned that even with babies, spending time with them, imitating their expressions, acting as a mirror, cooing when they coo, laughing when they laugh, smiling when they smile, will increase the bond and make them mentally healthier babies.

With smaller children spending 5 minutes a day in "special play time" where the parent describes what the child is doing; "you are building a tower with the blue blocks" you are making the bear dance!" and adding labeled praise "I like how gentle you are with the bear!" "You are so creative" shows the child that you are focused on them, and tuned in to them. Also only positive behaviors are rewarded. Negative behaviors are totally ignored. TOTALLY IGNORED! That's a tough one~ when a child is screaming, hitting, kicking and even cussing, the parent ignores it, but when they finally show a positive behavior, like sitting quietly, the parent praises the child and then moves on...

This actually reminded me a lot of the Dog Whisperer! Cesar works with "bad" dogs with much the same techniques. It all goes back to basic psychology: stimulus / response.
You reinforce the behaviors you want to see more of! So you don't reward a child when they are misbehaving by giving them ANY attention whatsoever! Because this will reinforce the "If I am whining, eventually I will get a toy to shut up!"

Its a pretty basic but incredibly tough concept to put into action. As humans we are programmed to nurture. When a baby cries or seems distressed we want to take care of him/her. But a toddler learns that if they cry long enough they can get candy, things, attention which they equate with love, if the love isn't given in a positive manner...

I think the toughest job in the world is parenting. You have to provide enduring, unconditional love, but you also have to set limits, boundaries and rules and enforce all those even when your heart is breaking. I admire everyone who does it well.

I was blessed that I had great parents, and wonderful older siblings who gave me both roots and wings. My older sibs have incredible children who are now raising even more incredible, amazing, beautiful children, my "greats" as I call them. The greats have a solid foundation of love. They will know what attachment is all about. (My greats will never end up on my caseload)

Good job, sibs, neices and nephew, good job greats. I love you all.

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